April 22, 2016

SOG is the IPSA Research Committee on the Structure and Organization of Government.  It has been the academic sponsor of the journal Governance  since its creation by SOG in 1988.    Learn more.
Does the US president need Congress's approval to go to war? 
 
John Yoo at March 16 debate
Does the U.S. President need Congress's approval to go to war?   John Yoo  and Alberto Coll  debate the question in new commentaries for Governance .  "As a matter of law, never," says Yoo. "The Constitution creates a presidency that can respond forcefully to prevent serious threats to our national security without waiting for congressional approval." Free access to Yoo's commentary.  But Coll disagrees profoundly. "The historical record is clear: Only the U.S. Congress has the right to initiate major conflicts."   Free access to Coll's commentary .  Yoo and Coll debated in person at the University of Missouri on March 16.  Details here.
What's wrong with the principal-agent model?
 
ECB President Mario Draghi appears before a European Parliament committee, 2014
We all agree that accountability of public officials is a good thing, but our understanding of how accountability works could stand improvement.  In the current issue of GovernanceMadalina Busuioc and Martin Lodge challenge the "hegemonic framework" for talking about accountability, the principal-agent model.  We persist in using this model, Busuioc and Lodge argue, even though it does not square with empirical evidence of how accountability-related activities actually work.  They propose an alternate model, a "reputation-based approach" to accountability, that provides a better explanation of behavior.  "Accountability is not about reducing information asymmetries, moral duties, containing agency losses, or ensuring that agents stay committed to the original terms of their mandates. Accountability is about sustaining one's own reputation vis-à-vis different audiences."  
Read the article .
Eastern Europe retreats from pension privatization
 
In the 1990s and early 2000s, pension privatization was a worldwide phenomenon.  But several Eastern European countries have scaled back mandatory private retirement accounts and restored the role of public provision since the global financial crisis.   In the current issue of Governance Marek Naczyk and Stefan Domonkos explain the reversal, and why some countries have back-pedaled faster than others.  The crisis strengthened the hand of domestic opponents of privatization, Naczyk and Domonkos say.  But the capacity of opponents to cause a change in policy depended on how deeply indebted their country was, as well as the portfolio structure of pension funds.  The authors suggest that their approach could help explain policy trends in other regions as well.   Read the article .
Does transparency hobble effective governance?
 
On the World Bank's CommGAP blog, Sina Odugbemi reflects on the recent debate in the pages of Governance on the question of whether US government is too open.  "It is a rich and illuminating exchange," Odugbemi says.  Read his summary of key points from the debate.
New books by SOG members

Donald Kettl's new book, Escaping Jurassic Government , has just been published by Brookings Institution Press.   Kettl provides an overview of his argument here . "The dinosaurs went extinct because they failed to adapt," Kettl says. "The crisis in public trust is a modern-day sign of our government's own struggle to adapt to its changing environment."

If you are a SOG member and have a new book, let us know.  Join SOG here.  The SOG newsletter reaches over five thousand academics and professionals around the world.